Thursday, 13 August 2015

An Opinion On Health Care

I am going home today, free from my hospital incarceration. I am not out of the woods yet; I'm still fighting the underlying infection. However, as the doctor says, there is little the hospital can do for me in this regard. The sepsis is gone. Now it's up to my body, with the assistance of a round of antibiotics, to fight off the last of this infection. My body generally does well with this, so I am hopeful. On the other hand, if my white blood cell count spikes, something which causes the extreme fever and shaking, then I have to come back to hospital where we will start all over again.

This experience over the last few days have left me with two very strong, and very personal, views on care in Canada. Dealing with Home Care has already had an impact on me, now it's hospitals and care homes. First of all, it's important to note that generalizations cannot be made from one experience. The plural of anecdote is not data. This is my view, my experience.

To begin with, my care here at not-for-profit, publicly funded Foothills Hospital has been excellent. It has been timely, well focused, with a goal to get me well and get me home again, something both the hospital and I would like to have happen. The doctors and nurses have treated me with respect and dignity. Even some of the Personal Care Aides have been exceptional. However I did find that the level of professionalism and care declined as I dealt with people in the lower echelon of the care giving system.

This got me to thinking about how the PCA's  work within the health care system. I realized that the people in the hospitals are likely the best in the field. Even so, many of them are clearly not well tuned to their purpose here. Patient care is important, but they seem to forget what that means at times, especially when it conflicts with their own plans.

My extension of this is to think of for-profit, privately-owned Care Homes. I have heard any number of horror stories, and I have dealt with some of their personnel. These Care Homes have to make money; Foothills Hospital doesn't. Plus even the lowest of staff here at Foothills Hospital are reasonably well paid. Care Homes will hire the lowest cost resources where ever possible in order to make a profit. That means many of the staff in the care homes, or in home care, are not the top graduates from their training program.

This doesn't mean they are all bad. Many of them are caring, diligent people who really want to serve and help. Care is important to them. For many others, however, it's just a job, and a low paying one at that. I believe that is why some Care Homes do so well, while others do so poorly. In a terrible over-simplification, the good Care Homes hire people who care, lead them well, and help them understand that their business is caring for their residents. The bad Care Homes hire with an eye to minimizing wage cost and maximizing profits.

For me, this is the most powerful argument for public health care. No matter what anyone tells you, if you do the research you will discover that the private health care model fails on almost every count; efficiency, effectiveness, cost, any others you care to name. I don't say our public model is perfect, but let's compare it here at home. When I make the comparison, I appreciate the folks here at Foothills Hospital all the more.


  1. Good to know my dear and happy you are on your way home.It is always more enjoyable at home if you are well enough. However hospitals are the place to go if you are not well and need constant care. love

  2. I really hope the U.S. see's the light and goes single payer. Health care has just gotten crazy!